My annual Monhegan Spring Migration Tour took place on 5/27 through 5/30, followed by another day on the island with Jeannette. It was very slow, and significant highlights were few. However, it was still, well, birding on Monhegan for five days, so I am not complaining. I’ll have a full tour report and checklist in the coming days. Highlights included daily crippling views of Black-billed Cuckoo; a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW that we found on 5/30 but was seen by all on 5/31; 3 WILLETS that arrived from the open ocean south of Lobster Cove before landing in the harbor on 5/31; a good Atlantic Puffin commuting flight in the morning of 5/31, and an immature male ORCHARD ORIOLE each day.
Other non-Monhegan and non-flycatcher highlights this week included:
2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, Hardy Boat from Monhegan to New Harbor, 5/31 (with Jeannette).
For much of this spring, I’ve been lamenting about a “slow” week of migration, or a “trickle” of migrants, etc. That was NOT the case this week, as the floodgates finally opened. In fact, it was an incredible week of birding. The northern limits of a huge fallout greeted me on Monday morning. And then there was Friday at Biddeford Pool. It was epic. Unforgettable.
My observations of note over the past eight days included:
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
20 species of warblers, including 1 continuing Louisiana Waterthrush and 6 Bay-breasted Warblers (FOY), and led by 25+ Northern Parulas and 20+ Black-and-white Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette). Incredible morning; definitely the best morning of spring to date. Interestingly, this appeared to be about the northern limits of what was a significant coastal fallout from at least Eastern Massachusetts into southern Maine.
17 species of warblers, led by 18 Common Yellowthroats and 17 American Redstarts, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/17 (with client from Maine).
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet (getting late), Florida Lake Park, 5/17 (with client from Maine).
16 species of warblers, led by 24 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 15 American Redstarts, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/18 (with Jeannette). This was the first morning this season where there were more female than male passage migrants.
16 species of warblers, led by 24 Common Yellowthroats and 22 Yellow-rumped Warblers, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/19.
Biddeford Pool, FALLOUT, 5/20! This was insane. I was optimistic about conditions based on the overnight wind forecast and morning fog, but there was virtually nothing on the radar overnight. I almost didn’t go. I never expected to find this. Birds were everywhere. Every tree had warblers. Swainson’s Thrushes and Lincoln’s Sparrows were hopping around manicured lawns. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it was, but here are some of the highlights as I covered East Point, the neighborhood, and the Elphis Pond trails. All of my numbers are extremely conservative, as I attempted to judge the movement of birds between parallel streets, etc.
20 species of warblers led by 53 Common Yellowthroats, 44+ American Redstarts, 44 Yellow Warblers, and 43 Magnolia Warblers. I know these numbers are particularly low.
Thrushes! 43 Swainson’s Thrushes (FOY) and 8+ Veeries, but also…
1 BICKNELL’S THRUSH – shocking migrant vocalizing incessantly on path to East Point. Was still calling 3 hours later. Voice recordings and poor photo above. Rarely detected in migration away other than Nocturnal Flight Calls, this might have been my first ever confirmation in spring along Maine’s coast. Seems a little early, too. Photo above.
1 GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (FOY). My settings were off on the camera and the overall tone of this bird is not accurate! When I looked down at the camera to adjust, it dropped out of site. Called once.
1 SUMMER TANAGER, near Elphis Pond. Quick fly-by, and no red seen. Confident there was little or red on the upperparts. Not seen well enough to know if this was the bird that had been continuing in the area for a while or a different, possible female.
1 male ORCHARD ORIOLE, Elphis Pond. Often singing.
Amazing quantities of usually-uncommon migrants, such as: 15 Lincoln’s Sparrows, 15 Bay-breasted Warblers, and 11 Canada Warblers.
Other good tallies included 17 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 13 Least Flycatchers, and 4-6 Scarlet Tanagers.
Personal First-of-years also included 2 Cape May Warblers, 9 Tennessee Warblers, 3 Philadelphia Vireos, along with 2 Roseate Terns off Ocean Ave.
The bird that got away: an intriguing Empid that suggested Acadian in a brief view along Orcutt Ave. Could not relocate.
Meanwhile, my list of personal “first of years” this week before the Biddeford Pool fallout included the following:
4 American Redstarts, Essex Woods and Marsh, Bangor, 5/13.
2 Bobolinks, Essex Woods and Marsh, 5/13.
1 Virginia Rail, Essex Woods and Marsh, 5/13.
5 Wood Thrushes, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
1 Scarlet Tanager, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
3 Red-eyed Vireos, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
1 Black-crowned Night-Heron, Evergreen Cemetery, 5/15 (with Down East Adventures Spring Songbird Workshop group).
1 Canada Warbler, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
1 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (a little on the early side), Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
4 Eastern Wood-Pewees, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
2 Blackpoll Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
6 Bay-breasted Warblers, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/16 (with Jeannette).
1 Alder Flycatcher, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/17 (with client from Maine).
It was another slow week of migration. This week, high pressure dominated, and a northerly to easterly flow continued essentially unabated from Saturday through Thursday. Winds were at least light enough at night that some birds fought the unfavorable conditions and “new” birds arrived almost every day, just never in large numbers. But it remains slim pickings, especially at migrant traps this week. Even on Thursday morning (more calm winds overnight allowed a few more birds to proceed) – my best day of the spring so far – numbers at Florida Lake were still very low for the date. The quality more than made up for it, however!
My observations of note over the past six days included:
10 species of warblers in one place for the first time this spring – finally – but led by only 14 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 8 Black-and-white Warblers, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
1 continuing Louisiana Waterthrush, Morgan Meadow WMA, 5/11.
1 PROTHONOTARY WARBLER among 15 species of warblers, Florida Lake Park, 5/12, led by ~25 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 9+ Black-and-white Warblers. The PROW was my 169th all-time species at the park! I first found it along the base of the long dike at the north edge of the pond, as it belted out a song within about 8-10 feet from me. Foraging in low shrubs along the pond edge, in perfect light, I was of course without my camera. I did get some identifiable video and a recording of the song with my phone, before taking off in a sprint to the parking lot. I returned with my camera and eventually refound the bird when it sang again from the small wooded island in the lake (photo above), just as Noah Gibb arrived. It then flew right past me as it disappeared into the woods. It reappeared a short while later on the island and was seen by several more people. I am still kicking myself, however, for leaving the camera in the car when it was so close. Such a stunning bird deserves a better photo.
And my list of personal “first of years” this week also included the following:
1 Veery, Florida Lake Park, Freeport, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
1 Nashville Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
1 Northern Waterthrush, Florida Lake Park, 5/7 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
It was a slow start to the week with just a trickle of migrants arriving from the weekend through the storm system on Wednesday. However, a successful twitch, and a couple of light flights overnight made for a great week of spring birding. Of course, there was also another successful Feathers Over Freeport: A Birdwatching Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Even though they didn’t produce any birds of note, it was a wonderful weekend full of birdwatching highlights. Photos will be posted soon, while the summary of our morning birdwalks is posted here.
My observations of note over the past seven days included:
1 SANDHILL CRANE (Finally, my FOY after missing a bunch of them at the watch this year), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 5/1.
Persistent winds from unfavorable directions precluded a big push of migrants this week, but the season is slowly progressing. There were a couple of decent nights of migration this week, on Sunday and Monday nights. My observations of note over the past seven days included:
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (FOY), our yard in Pownal, 4/23.
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cape Elizabeth Greenbelt Trail, 4/25 (with Jeannette).
I had relatively few things scheduled this week, so I took full advantage to spend a little extra time in the field – it might be July by the time I get a week this open again! While I definitely “swung for the fences” a few times in my pursuit of finding rare birds, I enjoyed a really great week of birding overall.
My observations of note over the past seven days included:
1 Red Crossbill, Waterboro Barrens Preserve, Waterboro, 4/11 (with Jeannette).
But my highlight was experiencing a fallout along the southern York County coast on 4/14, led by Song Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Golden-crowned Kinglets, but also including goodly tallies of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Flickers, and especially Hermit Thrushes. I also totaled 10 sparrow species on the day, several first-of-years, but alas, none of the hoped-for rarities. I summarized the event briefly in this post.
And my list of personal “first of years” and other new arrivals this week really showed the progression of the season.
2 Yellow-rumped Warblers (FOS), Florida Lake Park, 4/13.
1 drake Blue-winged Teal, Spring Brook Farm, Cumberland, 4/13.
1 Chipping Sparrow, feeders here at the store, 4/13.
1 Field Sparrow, Fort Foster, Kittery, 4/14.
1 Eastern Towhee, Fort Foster, 4/14.
1 Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Fort Foster, 4/14.
1 pair GADWALL (FOS), Seapoint Beach, Kittery, 4/14.
1 Dunlin (FOS), Seapoint Beach, 4/14.
And finally, the first event of this year’s extended Feathers Over Freeport celebration is Wednesday, 4/20 at Maine Beer Co. A portion of the proceeds of every food purchase will directly support the weekend’s events! I’ll be joining park staff to answer questions about our local state parks, local birding, and the Feathers Over Freeport Weekend. For more information, visit: www.maine.gov/feathersoverfreeeport
Jeannette and I escaped for a long weekend in Cape Cod, Friday through Monday. We were mostly looking for North Atlantic Right Whales, but of course we did some birding too! Jeannette’s whale and bird photos from the weekend are posted in this short blog about our trip:
Meanwhile, back in Maine, the strong northwesterly winds slowed the pace of migration. However, by week’s end, I had some time do a little local birding, producing the following highlights:
My personal highlights over the past six were as follows. Not surprisingly, it was mostly first-of-year new arrivals. The new bird for my Bradbury Mountain list, however, was definitely more of a surprise!
3 male and 1 female NORTHERN SHOVELERS (FOY), 100+ Greater and 10+ Lesser Scaup, 1 drake American Wigeon, 1 Bonaparte’s Gull (FOY), etc, Wharton Point, Brunswick, 3/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
4 Horned Larks and 1 American Wigeon, Highland Road, Brunswick, 3/19 (with Saturday Morning Birdwalk group).
2 Eastern Meadowlarks (FOY) and 5 Brown-headed Cowbirds (FOY), Chesley Hill Road, Durham, 3/20.
1 Great Blue Heron (FOS), Cousin’s River Marsh, 3/20.
4 American Kestrels (FOY), Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 3/20.
1 adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, fly-by at the Bradbury Mountain Hawkwatch, 3/20 (with Zane Baker). This was my 142nd all-time Bradbury Mountain State Park species!
20 Ring-necked Ducks (FOY), 2 American Wigeon, etc, Mouth of the Abagadasset River, Bowdoinham, 3/21 (with Jeannette).
6 Fish Crows (FOY), Maine Mall Road, 3/22.
6 Brant, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, 3/22.
7+ American Woodcocks, Pownal, 3/23 (with Jeannette).